With the number of FM radio stations on the rise, every listener thought they would get to hear more and in better quantity as well as in quality. But, the FM boom has not at all benefited the listener in terms of differentiating content as every station sounds alike today. As one of the panelists, South Asia FM national co-ordinator, Nisha Narayanan pointed out at the plenary session on the radio industry at the second day of the Ficci-Frames 2007, “Neither the All-India Radio nor the private FM players actually live up to the mantra ‘content is king, everything else is housekeeping’, which is put up at Prasar Bharati headquarters in New Delhi.”
Moderating the session, Radio Mirchi programming head Tapas Sen said, “Creating compelling content on radio seems to be an international issue with one forum after another discussing the topic but without much throwing up any implementable answers.” Differentiating the insider view and the outsider view, Sen pointed out that the latter differentiates the content on a channel as ‘music’ and ‘non-music’. He also observed that RJ talk was a preferred practice in international markets with cities like London showing average of 20 minutes of talk per hour. He also elaborated on providing ‘content-ment’ to listeners, using a four-point approach of compelling – topics, approaches, treatments and avoidances.
Narayanan further pointed out, “there will be no difference for the listeners even if some of the private FM stations shut down in a city, as there are no loyalties for any particular station.” Blaming the higher music fees for stations not able to air innovative and varied music content, she said even after the considerably lenient FM policy in place, there isn’t much difference in terms of programming. She also added, “Competition is not from FM stations, but from other mediums like Internet radio, television, and iPods.”
BBC World Services business development head for APAC Niel Curry talked about how BBC creates compelling content with their news programming. Citing some quotes on radio, he said, “the unique strength of radio lies in its power to stir the imagination.”
Radio City programming head Vikas Varma observed that Bollywood worked in a big way but still maintained that differentiation was the key for any station to succeed.
Saregama India managing director and RPG Enterprises president and chief executive for entertainment sector Subroto Chattopadhyay maintained that consumers were consuming music through all the different mediums. Divulging some research findings, he pointed out that around 72 percent of the listeners listened to radio only from home. He also observed that compelling content could be created with some basic requisites in place. Elaborating on it, he said, “Content should be based on the audience, concepts of creating unique content, use of local language, artists and genres, partnering with music industry for joint promotions, getting into co-branded shows and events and kids and so on.”
Chattopadhyay also said HMV Saregama had close to 3,00,000 tracks in their digital library of which most of them had not be utilised to deliver its fullest potential.
With such varied options provided by industry experts, there should be compelling content coming out from the players in times to come.